My childhood was spent between Flinders Island and Launceston after which I studied, worked, then studied some more before moving to Strahan 11 years ago. I am described as being a frustratingly calm person for someone surrounded by chaos! That chaos being my life; messy (lived in) house, kids, work, barking dog, scratchy cat and my hilarious shit stirring husband.
I have also had Postnatal Depression. Twice. Therefore, I had to be calm as there were no other options.
I experienced it first with my son in early 2015, then again in January 2017 with my twin girls. The second time I knew the signs. It happens so quick. One minute you're on top of the world, the next you're crying in the shower or not wanting to get dressed. You hiding from the world because you're feeling really, really, really shit.
It doesn't matter how grateful you are for the gifts of children or how much joy, love and laughter they create in your life. When you have Postnatal Depression it’s a different part of you that needs happiness. A part that is not found in being a mum or partner. For me it was needing to inspired again. Mentally challenged, stimulated and have a purpose for something other than my children. That may come across as selfish, but I believe all parents have felt the need to feel a different kind of alive at one time or another; after having kids.
My solution came in a small online travel blog called Wild Max & Co, which I created. I purchased the book ‘Coding for Dummies’, and learnt to build a website, then I drank a shit load of wine whilst writing a load of articles I will never, ever publish. After a while my focus changed, and I began publishing stories of travelling Tasmania, what it was like having twins living in a remote area like Strahan and tips for travelling long distances with young kids. Turns out blogging is hard work and there were thousands of other mum bloggers out there too, most likely doing it for similar reasons to why I was. These other bloggers had international travel stories, not ones about a tiny island at the bottom of Australia. But, I was onto a winner.
As I travelled with my young family it became clear that Tasmania needed a family travel resource; a go to guide for holidays with relevant destination information, helpful facts and inspiring stories from other travelling families.
That’s when I started the website Tassie4Kids.
There are two years between my three kids. My first was born on Boxing Day by emergency cesarean after 16 hours of labour. My waters broke in the Prospect IGA supermarket on Christmas Day.
Then came my twin girls. It was not until we went to Burnie that we discovered the second babe with a scan. You can’t have scans on the West Coast. The comment of ‘there’s one heartbeat and there is the other heartbeat’ made me cry. A lot. My husband said ‘fuck’ and then went quiet.
They were born at 35 weeks.
Like most mums I thought I would have it in the bag. I was super woman who could do it all on my own and my need to be in control those first few weeks really hit me hard. The twins were still in the Neonatal ward and I felt extremely disconnected from myself. I became so stressed out I was admitted to hospital from utter exhaustion. Once I made it home it was even harder. No one to prompt me or offer guidance as I was the first of my generation in our combined families to have multiples. I fought with everyone around me. I made my husband leave our house for the night, even tough it was raining and freezing. I become a hermit and binged on Offspring episodes because Nina made me feel good.
Finally, I acknowledged what I knew was going on all along and visited the doctor. The twins were three months old. Going to the doctor was the best decision for my health and family.
I always wanted children. A big family. I love the thought of large gatherings, family meals and Christmas all together. I am so grateful for the family and friends I have here in Strahan. They really helped me get through the hard times. Most importantly this town is our village; helping to raise our kids. Remote locations have negatives, but more often than not it’s the remoteness that makes the heart of those who live there beat even stronger.
My biggest challenge both personally and professionally is being so far away from major services. Other than family and friends there are no childcare services. It can be really challenging for parents to return to work after leave. One mother was driving from Strahan to Queenstown each day to drop and then pick up her child from childcare. Its a 45 minute trip one way. I am lucky that for now, working from home is an option.
It's taken me 30 years to respect myself enough to be happy in my own skin and not feel like I have to be someone I am not, to please others.
If you are a good person, you should never apologise for who you are. Times that have been hard, unforgiving and felt like you could never get back up, are the times that need to be reflected on with pride.
Photography by Lara van Raay.